The first of five Beluga XL transport aircraft rolled out of Airbus's paint shop in Toulouse, France, sporting special cetacean smiley-face livery voted for by 20,000 company employees.   

Airbus's New Beluga XL Jet Transport Smiles For The Cameras

For decades, wide-bodied cargo aircraft have been compared to bloated sea creatures – the Boeing 377-based “Pregnant Guppy” used by NASA in the 1960s is a prime example.

The new Beluga XL jet transport from Airbus not only carries on that tradition, it kicks it up a notch: it looks like a Beluga, it's named after a Beluga, and the first model off the line has been painted with a Beluga's big black eyes and goofy grin.  

Airbus's New Beluga XL Jet Transport Smiles For The Cameras

To add extra excitement to the Beluga XL's official rollout, Airbus commissioned six graphic design studies exploring possible livery artwork. They then submitted the designs to its 20,000 employees and asked them to vote on their preference. Was “Beluga McBelugaface” one of the options? Only Airbus employees know for sure, and they ain't talkin'!

When all the votes were counted, over 40% of the workforce favored a design featuring a wide, whale-like smile flanked by big round anime-style eyes. Certainly nothing to blubber about... a pity Airbus didn't have an orca-stra on hand, however. (via AINonline)